D. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) Hurd.

History of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) online

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length as those of the house.

April 9th. Nicholas Sever, the ancestor of the
Sever family in Kingston, died. He was a graduate
of Harvard College in the class of 1701, and after-
wards pastor of a Congregational Church iu Dover,
N. H. He came to Kingston soon after its incor-
poration as a town, and married Mrs. Sarah Little,



262



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



the widow of Mr. Charles Little, in 1728. He was
a judge of the Inferior Court for the county of Plym-
outh mauy years.

1766. June 23. Zephaniah Pickens was employed
" to ring the bell on public days, and at one and nine
o'clock, until March next."

October 6th. A meeting was held " to see if the
town would instruct their representative to vote for
compensation to the sufferers by the late disturbances
at Boston." The record states that the vote passed
in the affirmative, but a note, evidently written at a
subsequent time, on the margin says the vote was
not to give compensation, which is probably correct,
for iu President John Adams' diary, vol. ii. p. 204,
under date Dec. 8, 1766, he says that he found a
general opposition in Plymouth County to compensa-
tion, and that Kingston was fixed against it.

1767, Jan. 1. Died, Deacon Wrestling Brewster.
He was the first town treasurer, and continued in
that office until 1751. He was of the third gen-
eration in descent from Elder Brewster, and was born
in Duxbury, 1694, removing to Kingston previous to
1720, as about that time he built the house now be-
longing to the estate of the late Elisha Brewster.

1770. Peter West was allowed the sum of £3 4*.
for boarding Mr. Wadsworth when he kept school at
the Northwest. This was probably Gen. Wads-
worth, afterwards of Revolutionary fame.

1771. Oct. 14. Voted " to allow Benj. Cook the
sum of eight shilliugs for a coffin and liquor at the
funeral of James Howlaud." Although he was one
of the town's poor, yet it seems that, according to the
custom of those days, all proper respect was shown
him.

1772. A cart-bridge was built over Smelt Brook
this year.

1773. On the 12th of January, Ebenezer Wash-
burn, Kimball Prince, Joseph Bartlett, Nathaniel
Little, William Sever, William Drew, Benjamin Loth-
rop, Josiah Fuller, Ebenezer Cobb, Jr., and Samuel
Gray desired the selectmen to call a meetiug and con-
sider a letter or pamphlet published by order of the
town of Boston, purporting to be a state of the rights
of the inhabitants within this province, whereiu also
many infringements of the rights are pointed out, etc.
At the meeting called February 4th the letter re-
ferred to was considered, and the town addressed the
following to the Committee of Correspondence of the
town of Boston :

" Guntlkscen, . . . The town having duly considered the same,
are clearly of the opinion that they are fully entitled to all
those right* as by you stated, and that any attempts to deprive
us of them, or any of them, is an infringement of our Just



Rights. It gives us the greatest concern to see that notwith-
standing the immense advantages accruing to Great Britain
from her trade with the Colonies, advantages vastly exceeding
any expenses incurred for their protection, that the Parliament
of Great Britain should adupt a system with regard to the colo-
nies which effectually divests them of their rights as English-
men and subjects, and reduces them to a condition little better
than that of slaves; a system which, if adhered to, we fear will
eventually terminate in their own ruin. But notwithstanding
Bueh has been the unremitted, invaricd plan of administration
towards the Colonies for years past, wc cannot but hope a due
regard for their own safety and real interest will at length in-
duce them to redress the grievances we so justly complain of.
We shall always be ready to eo-operate with our brethren in
any legal and constitutional measures tending thereto. Slavery
IB ever preceded by sleep. May tho Coloni.-sts be ever watchlul
over their just rights, and may their liberties be lixed on such
a basis as that they may be transmitted Inviolate to the latest
posterity."

1774, Sept. 12. Another meeting of the inhabit-
ants was held, " to consider of a letter from the town
of Plymouth, proposing a meeting of the County of
Plymouth by their several committees or delegates
from each town in the County, to consider of an
resolve upon some means of counteracting the meas-
ures now carrying on by the Parliament of Great
Britain to annul and vacate the charter of this prov-
ince, and alter our once happy constitution and reduce
us to the condition of the most abject slaves." John
Thomas, Esq., Capt. John Gray, and William Drew
were chosen to attend the meetiug at the house of
Widow Loring, inn-holder, at Plyrapton, September
26th. It was also voted to choose a Committee uf
Correspondence, and subsequently John Thomas, Esq.,
Capt. John Gray, Hon. William Sever, Mr. Benjamin
Cook, Deacon Ebenezer Washburn, Mr. Peleg Wads-
worth, William Drew, Jedediah Holmes, and Capt.
Joseph Bartlett were chosen that committee.

1775, Jan. 2. Hon. William Sever, Nathaniel
Little, Cornelius Sampson, James Drew, and John
Gray were appointed " to proceed as soou as possible
to purchase thirty-three staud of good fire arm.-,, to-
gether with all accoutrements suitable to equip thirty-
three soldiers completely, to be kept as town's stock,
under the direction of the selectmen." This may
have reference to the first company of minute-men in
Kingston, for such companies were at that time being
formed in the neighboring towns, and a regiment of
them was afterwards formed from Plymouth County,
under command of Col. Cotton. A few months pre-
vious to the commencement of hostilities, Gen. Gage
had stationed a company of British troops, under
command of Capt. Balfour, at Marshfield, at the so-
licitation of the Tories, for their protection. The
selectmen of Plymouth, Kingston, Duxbury, Pem-
broke, Hanson, and Scituate, in an address dated at



HISTORY OF KINGSTON.



203



Pembroke, Feb. 7, 1775, protested against an armed
force being placed among them, and the Provincial
Congress, on the 15th of the same month, approved
of this protest from these six towns, and recommended
them to continue " steadily to persevere in the same
line of conduct, which has iu this instance so justly
entitled them to the esteem of their fellow-country-
men, and to keep a watchful eye upou the behavior
of those who are aiming at the destruction of our
liberties." As soon as the news of the bloodshed at
Lexington reached the Old Colony, Col. Cotton formed
to attack Balfour's company, and, on the morning of
the 21st of April, he marched for Marshfield. The
Kingstou company was commanded by Capt. Peleg
Wadsworth. They marched to a place about one
mile from the British troops, and there some of the
officers held a conference as to the best course to be
pursued. Capt. Wadsworth, being dissatisfied with
the delay, moved his company forward to within a
short distance from the enemy, but his numbers were
too small to venture an attack. It was not long be-
fore Balfour conveyed his troops through the Cut
River in boats to two sloops anchored in the harbor,
and when on board the vessels, they sailed for Boston.
It is reported that Balfour said he should have made
no resistance had he been attacked. Thus this King-
ston minute company, under command of Wadsworth,
has its place in history. Of this company Seth Drew
was lieutenant, and Joseph Sampson ensign.

March 13th. The town refused to send a repre-
sentative to the General Court, but elected Hon. Wil-
liam Sever as delegate to the Provincial Congress at
Watertown. John Thomas, Esq., one of the select-
men, being appointed one of the generals in the army,
and therefore " not likely to be in town much if any of
the ensuing year," Benjamin Cook was chosen in his
place.

1776. The birth-year of our nation and the im-
mortal Declaration of Independence, which was copied
aud placed upon the records, according to the sug-
gestion of those in authority, forms an attractive
page, written as it is in such bold and striking char-
acters, impressing the reader with the earnestness of
those people " in the days that tried men's souls."

Hon. William Sever was allowed four pounds for
sixteen days' attendance at Congress in May, 1775.

1777. Samuel Foster and his son, Charles Foster,
were decided Tories in the Revolution, and both had
their trial in the "meeting-house. The elder Foster
tried several times to speak in his own defense, but
each time the presiding officer, with sword in hand,
would say, " You, Samuel Foster, sit down." They
were both sent to a guard-ship in Boston harbor,



where they were imprisoned ten months. The wife
of Charles Foster went to Boston on horseback, and
through the influence of Job Prince. Esq., a promi-
nent Whig, she obtained her husband's release, and
they took turns in riding home. At the time of the
arrest they were working in the field where the house
of the late Frederick C. Adams now stands. Capt.
Robert Foster, another son of Samuel, was a violent
Tory, and he was imprisoned awhile in Plymouth.
Afterwards he got away to Liverpool, Nova Scotia,
aud when he returned he was much reduced in prop-
erty and in a depressed state of mind.

1778, William Drew and Nicholas Davis, Jr.,
were chosen to purchase articles of clothing, etc., to
be seut to the suffering soldiers in the army. Voted,
" that there be a hospital set up in town for inocu-
lation for the smallpox, and that Dr. Whitmau be
the physician to attend to it."

August 2d. Samuel Foster, the ancestor of the
Kingston Fosters, and whose trial for being a Tory
has just been noticed, died in his seventy-ninth year.
He built the house lately occupied by the venerable
Uriah Bartlett, about 1721. He was great-grand-
father of the late Deacon James Foster.

1779, March 14. The Rev. William Rand died
suddenly of apoplexy, aged seventy-nine years, after
a ministry of more than thirty-three years. He was
born in Charlestown, March 24, 1700, and graduated
at Harvard College, 1721. Afterwards he was set-
tled in Sunderland, on the Connecticut River, about
twenty years, until his removal to Kingston iu 1746.
He was a scholar, highly esteemed and respected by
the learned and informed in the province, with whom
he had an extensive acquaintance, and was considered
a valuable man in the church aud community. On
the 15th the town appointed a committee to make
arrangements for the funeral, and afterwards grave-
stones were procured to be placed at his grave.
Isaiah Mann, a graduate of Harvard College (1775),
was invited by the church and towu by a groat ma-
jority, iu July, to settle in the ministry, but at the
same time he accepted a call from Falmouth, and
there died in 1789.

1780, March 13. Joshua Delano, Kimball Prince,
and Joseph Sampson were chosen the " Committee of
Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety" for the year.
The selectmen were directed " to lay out a cartway
from Elijah and Francis Ring's, through gate and
bars to the Bridgewater road, near widow Hauuuh
Cook's house."

May 19th. This day will ever be memorable as
the " Dark Day" over the whole of New England,
but the solemnity and gloom was increased in this



264



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



aud the neighboring towns of Plympton and Plym-
outh, owing to the loss of a child from its home in
Plympton a day or two previous. Search was being
made when the darkness of this wonderful day over-
spread the land. On the following day the dead body
of the child was found in the woods within the limits
of Plymouth. Soon after this a lady composed forty-
two stanzas and addressed them to the afflicted parents,
three or four of which that referred to this day will
be given here. They were found among the papers of
the late Mrs. Deborah Washburn (who died, 1S49,
aged eighty-nine).

" Now unto others would I speak,
And solemnly advise,
never lo forget that day,
That day of great surprise.

" When darkness overspread the earth
Before the child was found,
llow then was silence put to mirth,
And how did fear abound,

"When we knew not that e'er again
The sunlight would appear;
But while the darkness did remain,
Alas! what did we fear?

11 We feared that babe would perish quite,
That lovely rose in bloom;
We feared our everlasting night,
We feared the day of doom."

March 12th. Zephaniah Willis commenced to
preach, aud ou the Sth of May the church voted
unanimously to give him a call, and the town con-
curred in the same ou the 22d. He accepted the
invitation in July, and was ordained on the 18th of
October following. The order of services was as
follows: Introductory prayer, Rev. Mr. Shaw; sermon,
Rev. Mr. Sanger; ordaining prayer, Rev. Mr. Briggs;
charge, Rev. Mr. Hitchcock; right hand of fellow-
ship, Rev. Mr. Robbius.

Rev. Mr. Willis' salary at first was eighty pounds,
to be paid partly in Indian corn, rye, pork, beef, etc.,
at specified prices. It was also voted to give him, as
an encouragement to settle, about one hundred and
thirty-three pounds, to be paid in building materials.
The last-named sums were of the same value as they
were in 1775, for at this date (1780) the currency
had become greatly depreciated, as at the same meet-
ing fourteen hundred and fifty-two pounds were ap
propriated for repairing the meeting-house. Ten cords
of wood yearly was the minister's allowance until he
should have a family, and then twenty cords were to
be allowed, said wood to be delivered at his door.

September 4th. The first election of State officers
under the new Massachusetts Constitution took place,



and the town vote for Governor was, for Hon. John
Hancock, thirteen, and for the Hon. James Buwdoin,
twelve.

1781, May 5. At this time the paper cuneucy had
become so greatly depreciated that no confidence
could be placed in its value. In December, 1780,
seventy-five dollars per bushel were allowed the sol-
diers for the corn that was due them, and at this
meeting in May it was voted "to allow Mr. John
Fuller's account for twenty-two pounds ten shillings,
old currency, one hard dollar."

1782, March 11. It was decided to build two new
school-houses, one at the southwest part of the town
and one at the northwest.

1784. The town agTeed to give Rev. Mr. Willis
ninety-five pounds per year for ten years from the
time of his settlement.

1787, April 2. The old burial-ground was inclosed
this year, the wall " to begiu at the line of the laud
of Francis Adams in the range of the northerly side
of the porch of the meeting-house, and extend to the
northwest side of said porch, aud that on the easterly
end of the meeting-house the wall begin at the north-
east corner of the tower on which the steeple is
erected, and that it extend from thence iu a line
with the northerly side of the tower one rod aud a
half, and from thence to extend to the line of Fran-
cis Adams in such a direction as to include within
the enclosure the graves nigh to the land of the said
Adams."

December 17th. Hon. William Sever, Esq., was
chosen a delegate to the State Convention for ratify-
ing the United States Constitution to be held in Jan-
uary, 1788.

1790. Mr. Levi Bradford agreed to make the
whipping-post and stocks for nine shillings, the town
to find the iron. Eighty pounds were raised for the
schools; the South District to have three months'
school, the Middle District six months', the South-
west aud Northwest Districts each four aud a half
months'.

1791. A rate of labor ou highways was established
as follows: For a day's labor by a man, 2s. Sd. ; for
a yoke of oxen, 2s. ; for a horse, Is. Gd. ; for a cart,
Is. 4d. These prices were considered for eight hours'
work per day.

1793, Oct. 3. Hon. William Sever had lately pre-
sented tho church and cougregation with an elegant
folio Bible, and the town appointed Rev. Z. Willis to
wait on his honor with the thanks of the town for
his valuable present. This Bible was of the first
folio edition printed in our country.

1794, May. A committee was chosen to agree



HISTORY OF KINGSTON.



265



with a schoolmaster, and they reported to allow Mr.
Martin Parris seventy pounds per year " so long as
he shall give satisfaction to the town." The road
from the meeting-house by Adams' mill to the Plyrop-
ton road, uear the house of Ebeuezer Wasliburn, was
laid out ; but it was not accepted by the town until
1798.

1795, May 10. William Drew, Esq., died, aged
sixty-four years. He was son of Cornelius and
Sarah (Bartlett) Drew, and the grandson of Samuel,
mentioned page 259. He was a merchant and ship-
builder. During the early days of the Revolution
he was one of the Committee of Correspondence,
and 17S0 he represented the town in the General
Court, and was also a delegate to the State Conven-
tion for framing the new State Constitution.

1796, Rev. Mr. Willis' salary was four hundred
dollars, exclusive of wood. Mr. Parris, the school-
master, was allowed fifty dollars in addition to his
salary, " considering the increase in price of pro-
visions." Previous to this year the accounts seem
to have been kept by the old New England currency,
but as will be noticed above a change was made at
this period.

1797, April 3. It was voted by the town to take
the steeple of the meeting-house dowu, as it was not
in a safe condition, although it had stood but thirty-
three years. One thousand dollars raised for the
necessary expenses of the town.

1798, Feb. 5. It was voted to build a new meeting-
house iu place of the old one, that had stood about
eighty years. Mr. Robert Cook, Capt. Judah Wash-
burn, Mr. Jobu Sever, Col. John Thomas, Capt.
Isaiah Thomas, Col. John Gray, Mr. David Beal, Mr.
Cephas Wadsworth, Mr. Jedediah Holmes, Mr. Jere-
miah Sampson, Mr. Melzar Adams, Mr. Charles
Holme.-;, and Seth Drew, Esq., were a committee to
report a plau for the building. On the 22d, Col.
Gray laid the plan before the town, which was
adopted : " the house to be sixty feet long and fifty-
five wide, besides the projections," which were ten
feet, and to be twenty-five feet in the walls. Col.
John Thomas, Seth Drew, Esq., and John Fauuce
were chosen the committee on labor and material.
The pews were sold by the plan for the purpose of
raising the money necessary ior the building of the
house. March 26th twenty-uine pews were sold for
$2413, and the next day twenty-one more were sold
for §11)15. By August 6th the sum of $7394 had
been realized from the sale of the pews, the prices
rauging from $60 to $135. The work of raising the
new house of public worship was commenced on the
31st of July, and completed August 2d. During the



summer season, while the new house was in process
of building, a structure was prepared on the green,
made from the roof of the old house, and it was
called the " Quail trap," and there the people wor-
shiped. The church-bell was placed on a framework
near by, and was there rung on public occasions until
it soon became cracked, and thus rendered useless.
The new meeting-house was opened for worship Sep-
tember 16th, while it was yet unfinished. The fol-
lowing account of the raising of this building was
taken from the papers of the late Cornelius A. Bart-
lett, who was a most reliable person, aud had an ex-
tensive knowledge of the history of his native town.
He died Nov. 8, 1880:

" When the second meeting-house in Kingston was
raised it was made a very jovial occasion. Booths
were erected in the field opposite, aud all kinds of
liquor and refreshments were sold freely. Mr. Bildad
Washburn kept a tavern in what is now known as
the Russell house, and Mrs. Dorothy Bates, who was
then ten years of age, recollected the crowds of people
who were there every day. Peleg Holmes said he
listened one day to a Mr. Jackson, who was playing
on a fiddle, while some were dancing. After the
frame was up, a procession formed of those who were
employed iu raising the building, consisting of car-
penters, sailors, blacksmiths, etc., each taking some
implement of his trade, such as axes, rules, squares,
tackles, ropes, etc. They marched to the Great
bridge aud back to the temporary building ou the
green that was used for public worship while the
new church was being built. There they had punch,
etc., aud after an hour or so had passed iu their having
a jolly time the crowd dispersed to their homes, and
so ended an old-fashioned ' meeting-house raising.' "

1800, Nov. 22. A committee was chosen to settle
accounts with the buildiug committee for the uew
meeting-house.

1801, June 15. We have now arrived at a period
when the town took the first action which produced the
most distracting divisions aud a bitter quarrel, known
since as the l; Great Fund Controversy." For years
its effects were felt, and probably the policy adopted
by the town at that time would now, if discussed,
even after the lapse of more than three-quarters of a
century, fiud its supporters, as well as those who would
condemn it. Rev. Mr. Willis felt much troubled,
and almost decided to remove from the town, so deeply
did he regret the result of such discord and con-
tention, when, to use his own words, " the town of
Kingston had been remarkable for peace, unanimity,
and concord." A disruption of the old parish soon
took place, and some"of the members who withdrew



266



HISTORY OF PLYMOUTH COUNTY.



soon became the founders of the Baptist Church in
the town, although at the time of their withdrawal
they had no particular sympathy with that denomina-
tion. The actiou of the town referred to was this :
It was voted " that the sum of eleven hundred dollars
arising from the sale of the pews in the meeting-house
be put into a fund, and that the interest accruing
therefrom be applied for the support of a Congrega-
tional minister." Although this was the origin of
the controversy, it produced no great contention until
the succeeding year, when application was made to
the General Court for an act of incorporation. At
different stages of the controversy many harsh or
bitter words were spoken by both parties, but they
are now buried in the past, and the active participants
have all. long ago, passed away, so that at this late
day we have nothing to do but record the actual
doings of the town during the four or five years the
contention la.-ted, and such will be given in these
pages under the different years as they appear upon
the records of the town.

December 8th. Died, Mr. Ebenezer Cobb, in the
one hundred and eighth year of his age. This is the
most remarkable instance of longevity known in this
vicinity. As he was born in 1694, his lifetime em-
braced six years of the seventeenth century, the whole
of the eighteenth, and one year of the nineteenth cen-
tury. On the occasion of the completion of his
hundredth year, April, 1794, Rev. Dr. Chandler
Robbins, of Plymouth, went to the house of the
venerable man and preached a suitable sermon. The
reason of Dr. Robbins officiating at that time was
that some feeling had arisen between a son of the
centenarian (Mr. John Cobb) and Rev. Mr. Willis,
and the preference was given to Dr. Robbins. Shortly
after Mr. Willis called on his aged parishiouer, as they
were on very friendly terms, when the latter said to his
minister, " Do not feel offended because you was not
called to preach the sermon. It was none of my doing :
it was the boy's work ; but I promise you, Mr. Willis,
when I have another century sermon to be preached,
you shall do it." As he was five years of age before
Mary Allerton Cushman, the last survivor of the
" Mayflower" company, died, it makes him the link
that connects the Pilgrims with the present generation.
Persons are now living who recollect Mr. Cobb, and
at the late celebration of the one hundred aud fiftieth
anniversary of the town (June 27, 1876), two geutle-
men were on the platform as speakers who recollected
conversing with him, viz. : Rev. Job Washburn, of
Rockport, Me., aud Hon. Joseph R. Chandler, of
Philadelphia.

1802, Jau. 11. It was decided to make applica-



tion to the General Court for an act of incorpora-
tion, incorporating Rev. Z. Willis, Ebenr. Washburn,
Esq., Col. John Gray, Jedudiah Holmes, Esq., Johu
Faunce, Col. John Thomas, and Jedediah Holmes,
Jr., as trustees of the fund, on which action was
taken in 1801. An act of incorporation passed, but
soon a majority of the voters were making strenuous
efforts for its repeal, as will be seen by the action of
the town the next year.

1803, May 20. Voted " to petition the General
Court for a repeal of the law for a fund for the sup-



Online LibraryD. Hamilton (Duane Hamilton) HurdHistory of Plymouth County, Massachusetts : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men (Volume 2) → online text (page 61 of 118)